A quick glance at worldwide corona virus data indicates that there is a glaring deficit in testing in Sri Lanka, statistics experts told Colombo Telegraph.
When significant testing done within a population of a country, a trend can usually be determined after a certain period of time.
This data can be useful to make key decisions such as reopening the economy, lifting lockdowns and easing social distancing regulations.
The data for India shows a steady increase in Corona cases on a daily basis. The UK graph shows a gradual decrease while the US data also shows a downward trajectory even though at a much slower pace. Every country graph shows a distinct pattern.
A quick glimpse of the Sri Lanka graph shows no such trend.
Instead the graph shows an erratic pattern is usually a sign of a sample size. Sri Lanka has performed just over 50,000 tests, testing less than 0.2 percent of its 21 million population.
Furthermore, much of these tests are repeat testing on forces personnel and security teams linked to political VIPs.
To use a familiar graph, it would be similar to the initial ‘run rate worm’ in a cricket match where the first few overs could show an erratic pattern because the number of runs is divided by fewer overs. As the number of overs increase the rate shows greater stability.
Sri Lanka’s graph typically shows two or three days of low infection rates followed by spikes when testing is performed – for instance on Kuwaitee returnees who have formed a new large cluster of cases. Health authorities are only permitted to test forces personnel, persons in Quarantine centers, those returning from overseas and those considered to be high risk once some contact tracing is performed. There is no wider testing for COVID or COVID-19 antibodies – which is a much less expensive blood test than the swab test for the virus.
Data analysts explained to Colombo Telegraph that the testing data from Sri Lanka is worthless in terms of determining exactly how much of the population could potentially be at risk of transmission. The data also makes it impossible to make projections about the trajectory of Sri Lanka’s COVID curve.
In fact, since a Major General was appointed Secretary to the Ministry of Health, experts are fearful that testing results may be deliberately under-reported to create the impression that all is well in the country. The narrative is being carefully built to ensure elections can be held early in order to ensure the President will not be compelled to reconvene the old Parliament and enact new laws to hold elections under the pandemic situation, Colombo Telegraph learns. (By Janakie Mediwake)